Will high frame rates kill the 24fps ‘cinematic’ standard?

by planetmitch15 Comments

The other day, engadget posted a story Editorial: Despite shaky 48 fps Hobbit preview, high frame rates will take off. We were all so excited back in 2009 when the Canon EOS 5D Mark II was upgraded to 24fps in a firmware update because 30fps looks “too much like news or a soap opera.” What do you think the future will bring? Is 24fps dead? There's a poll question just below the videos… please let us know your thoughts!

If you've kept up with recent discussion (hopefully you haven't been hiding in a hobbit hole somewhere), Peter Jackson is shooting “the Hobbit” on Red in 3D as well as shooting it at 48fps and James Cameron (“Avatar”) has been talking about how 48 or 60fps is so much better (watch this 2009 interview where he talks about sports being done in higher framerates – “24 frame display rate is a 20th century idea”)

James Cameron discussing 48 fps (from June 2011)

Poll Question

[poll id=”26″]

From Engadget

Editorial: Despite shaky 48 fps Hobbit preview, high frame rates will take off

Well actually, the Hobbit preview wasn't shaky, it was smooth — maybe too smooth — and that's the point. "It does take you a while to get used to," Peter Jackson has admitted, referring to the surprisingly fluid motion of his 48 fps movie footage. But is he right to think audiences will even give it a chance? The launch of high frame-rate (HFR) cinema is surrounded by publicity in the run-up to the Hobbit's debut on December 12th, but it equally has a lot going against it. For starters, the film's 48 fps preview wasn't exactly received warmly. On top of that, the video-style appearance of HFR has a long history of being disliked by movie-goers — past attempts since the 1970s have all flamed out.

85 years after the first 24 fps movies, the same number of frames are still going stubbornly through the gate (digital or otherwise) each second, so that must be what "filmic" is, right? Or will we look back on 24fps as the bad old days? Read on to see if these new/old-fangled frame speeds might survive, and though a 48 fps Hobbit trailer isn't available, we've provided a couple of clips to help you judge what two-dimensional HFR looks like.

So what do you think?

I personally haven't seen enough 48fps footage yet to know, but when looking at the Hobbit trailer and watching the samples on engadget, I'm thinking I don't like it. I've certainly seen enough 30fps stuff to know I like 24fps better there, but what about the super high rates?

And to Mr. Cameron's comment in the video above… sure, I want my sports in super high quality, but I don't want my movies to look like video. What about you?

Some other reactions:

(cover photo credit: screen grab from the trailer)


  1. I agree–sports works in 48 fps, but not movies. What’s the point of changing things? Just because he can? Doesn’t make sense to me and it costs more and doesn’t look better. When we go to see a movie, we want it to look like a movie, not a TV soap opera or football game.

  2. Shooting higher framerates for sports and music videos are fine with me. When it comes to cinema, I don’t think 48fps is the way to go. 24fps just looks right.

    Sometimes I watch TV and with the newer TVs it looks too clean. Almost like I’m watching theater plays.

    24 is where it’s at for me. I’m not convinced 48 is better for cinema. I don’t care if big time directors are pushing it. Just doesn’t look good to me.

    If they were pushing 30fps, they will have a better chance, but even that looks too clean in my opinion.

  3. The reason people like 24fps is because it makes your brain work to fill in the gaps, which sucks you into the screen. It’s not a magic number, just a good balance.

    I don’t think it’s a matter of getting used to it- at 48 fps your audience’s eyes are just going to gloss over. Afterall, look at the person telling us that once you get used to it, it’s better- the director of the film. Of course HE isn’t going to get bored watching his own labor of love, but will the audience? More than likely.

  4. I HATE the look of higher frame-rates. It’s like looking at those flatscreens and their 60 or 120Hz refresh rates that make a 24p movie image look God-Awful.

    I really can’t understand why you would want that in a narrative.

    The reason sports makes sense to use that higher frame rate is that most sports fans want the image to look like they are there in the stadium or on the field.

  5. Personally, I think 48fps is the future frame rate. I’ve seen plenty of 24p and 30p from just about every DSLR and for me I can’t really tell a difference. Now, if that was projected to the big screen, I have no doubt I would see a difference, but for 99.9 % of people shooting with a DSLR how many of those works are going to the big screen, not very many. The Internet is your biggest audience and there’s no way you can tell the difference between 24p and 30p from the web, you’d be guessing.

  6. I thought all the Hobbit trailers online were in 24fps.

    Do you have a link to a true 48fps version?

  7. The reason Hollywood chose 24fps is it was cheep and the minimal standard that worked with little Flicker. FYI – In the movie theater you are not seeing 24fps. In fact, you are seeing 48fps. Why? The shutter. Half of the frames you see are Black or when the shutter is down while the next frame is pulled down into place. I would also note this is why we use standard shutter speeds of 48th for 24fps and 60th at 30fps to create a natural motion blur.

    The reason why Peter Jackson wants 48fps is not for the HIGH FRAME RATE per say. It is for better 3D to look more like 24fps. It is in order for each eye to see 24fps of 3D because it is alternating each frame per eye. That’s why 3D movies seem to flicker a lot more. It’s not the glasses, its the low frame rate per eye.

    30 FPS is the future now. It is already online. And yes, I can tell 24fps from 30fps with any fast movement. 24 frame judders if the cameraman does not know how to shoot it – just look at the beginner forums on youtube.

    I have seen 60fps not in the 70s but in 1990’s from Imax’s dead competitor SHOWSCAN. They shot 65mm film at 60 frames per second and shutter set at 120. The problem was the natural motion blur that we see in life and at 24 and 30p disappears.

    All the frames are tach sharp, just like High shutter Speeds (try 1000 on a helicopter and the blade will stop). The demo I saw was very unnatural of a roller coaster. You could see the front wooden track rail was tach sharp instead of motion blurred. Needless to say it failed and Imax survived.

    Note – 60i (interlaced) contains more motion information (double that that of 30fps) because it shows 60 interlaced frames at 30fps. That is why DVDs and Broadcast Standards even have 30P listed in their standards. However, the 60i standard becomes 30fps when both of the interlaced frames are the same frame.

    30fps is better motion quality (more info) but with nice natural motion blur. The best of both worlds. Most of the comments remind me of Record Lovers hating CDs for being to clean (lets add the pops and hisses back in.)

    I’m surprised no one is asking for more fake Film Grain to be added back into the digital pictures shot on RED and Alexa. Hollywood is already removing the grain from all of its older films for Blu-Ray because customers HATE the grainy image. The future is clear, higher resolution 4k+ and better motion 30p. Most people are already shooting 30p for youtube. Lastly, most people watch movies not in theaters but on HDTV and the NET at either 30p or 60i – not 24p.

    1. You are incorrect on a couple of points, but what gets me is the condescending attitude toward people who see it differently than you. Your last two paragraphs discredit you worse than your technical inaccuracies.
      Those “customers” you refer to are me and mine as much as you and yours, and we love the grain, see ONLY 24 fps, know that digital cannot sound like the warmth of those tubes in the analog sound, and will continue to see the “future” the way WE want it. It won’t change just because you said so, that’s for sure.

  8. The 24p gives a kind of texture that higher frame rates don’t have!
    Film like a Soap Opera?? I think that should be just the opposite!!
    I think this is just a kind of marketing… Anyone will go to the movie to see the news…

  9. Dave, C. – what points am I wrong? (You question but you can’t point out any facts because I am right on this), I’m saying that there is some BS on quality 24 vs 30p. If you want the best resolution like 4k digital then you should want 30p with more motion data over 24p.

    This is the best low noise and natural motion blur. 24p is inferior from any tech standards… like I said, it was adopted out of cheapness and not out of quality. I like McDonalds, but it is not the best, hamburger, ok?

    Most Gamers are playing 60p online with computer graphics… which does not have “natural” motion blur… but for them it is surreal like crappy 24p was for you…. 24p will be gone, sorry.

    You should hope 30p is a nice balance… as 60p gamers will create a new look and it won’t be video that you hate, it will be worse,,, 60p gamer…. LOL.

    I agree with you! 60p will look worse the 24p… 30p is a great compromise. Sorry for my attitude, but the voting Pole above and your non factual comments are a bit uneducated. The love of 24 fps is like records.

    No young person would want a low bit MP3 nor would they want a low frame rate of 24…

    This BS love for the old is a joke. If you make a movie with crappy sound and grainy image, it will Fail or it may will win an Academy Award – just make sure you are French and have a cute Dog and Girl making a film that Hollywood would NOT finance!

    1. It’s amazing how long a response a person will leave when he’s trying to convince himself of the things even he doesn’t believe.
      Greg, If YOU don’t know why you’re wrong, I’m not gonna educate you. Keep believing that nonsense, and we’ll just keep making and watching our inferior, crappy, but oh-so-engaging and entertaining, non-technical 24 frame per second beauties.
      Guess we should all throw our mothers out in the streets when they get old, huh? :)

  10. Here we go again, the 24p vs 30p argument. I think Greg V. makes some valid points and I am curious what Dave C. thinks is so incorrect? I agree with the BS 24p 30p quality issue. Yes, to a trained eye 24p with fast motion can be seen as a difference to 30p, but for the most part, especially to the laymen, the two frame rates look pretty much identical when viewed from the Internet. Personally, I think many shoot 24p because that’s what Hollywood shoots, and for no other reason. Just my opinion!

  11. the should shoot movies in 60fps,
    if some people still want that laggy 24fps they should just set up there hardware in a way that it kills every 2.5 frames.
    only because some people want bad quality…

    you can always convert 60fps->24fps, but it doesnt work the other way without interpolation

  12. Dave C., I’m not sure I see where Greg V. is wrong here, but I’m open to hearing where you think he is. The analogies he draws on with audio are spot on. Another good analogy is in photography – in the consumer markets, everyone is using crappy little apps to make “vintage” photos without recognizing that they are ruining their images in a permanent way. If they shot RAW images at full resolution, the flexibility opens up and they could get their vintage images for fun while keeping the integrity of what was actually shot. I still can’t believe I would buy 800 iso film because I liked the grain!

    Anyhow, it’s the same with video/film. Starting out in 24fps will leave you stuck there. Double that up and you could drop frames, add motion blur, and much more for that matter. The flexibility of higher frame rates will win out at some point. We’re in the point-of-view world already and consumer cameras like the GoPro shoot at 60fps. We’ve been in the world of realism for years now and the generations behind me are accustomed to super-clean high quality video. 24fps looks great today, but to think that what people find aesthetically pleasing won’t change is just putting your head in the sand. 24fps won’t go away tomorrow, but it will slowly become relegated to art films in the same way that film and poloroids did in the photography world.

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